There has been a certain focus on New Zealand housing over the past year. The main issues being that; we don’t seem to have enough of them, there are affordability issues in the main centres and they are not always particularly healthy.
That’s what the newly appointed President of the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, Darin Devanny, suggests is the problem with the New Zealand housing market.
Darin was reflecting on developments in the residential sector during 2017.
He says the newly formed Labour Government has now progressed the Healthy Homes Bill to its second reading and this means all rentals are a step closer to being warmer and drier.
This is a positive step that will help to ensure Kiwi rentals are fit for purpose.
It is well-known for people living in New Zealand that 1000s of our houses are below standard when it comes to insulation, heating and being dry.
“I have met several immigrants who did not know our housing stock consists largely of cold houses until they moved to New Zealand and brought a home of their own, only to find how poorly insulated it was,” said Darin.
The Healthy Homes Bill may not be a silver bullet to fix cold and unhealthy houses, but it is a good start. Educating people on how to ensure their newly insulated home is kept warm and dry is also important.
The balance between ventilation and heating needs to be better understood, and every house in New Zealand is different.
Building surveyors do understand this and can provide advice to homeowners, landlords and tenants to improve the condition of unhealthy homes.
Now, says Darin, it is time for New Zealand to be thinking more seriously about home warranty schemes to provide more certainty to New Zealanders building houses in future.
Darin’s thoughts are echoed by immediate Past President, Trevor Jones.
“It is about ensuring the industry ups its game, especially with the opportunity from a change of government, and the residential issues we are facing.
“One of the key issues the industry deals with is the ‘quality threshold’, and there are mixed results being achieved around skills, quality management and compliance.
“In NZIBS, many of our members are baby boomers, and are coming to the end of their careers. This is reflective of the labour force generally in the industry, and whilst training is being invested in, we can expect to see experience dwindling.
“For NZIBS, we are pleased to see new tertiary qualifications coming on stream, and this should give us a boost in younger members, which NZIBS further develop, through our outstanding professional training modules.”
The Government has introduced the Kiwibuild scheme which will start building up to 10,000 houses per year over the next decade. This huge undertaking will impact the current skills shortage of trades and professions.
“Most people in our industry are near capacity and this issue is going to be a constraint on the industry.
“It’s important we encourage new entrants and good training to ease these capacity issues. We also don’t want to stop skilled people coming in from overseas. It is important that appropriate skills can be imported with political support” says Trevor.
NZIBS Vice President, Rory Crosbie comments that land values, the risks associated with the consenting process, and current uncertainty with the residential market, are all challenges for suppliers of homes to the market.
“Having to provide healthy homes at potential extra cost increases this challenge. By the end of next year, Zero Energy homes will be the minimum standard for new homes in Europe.
“Prefabricated homes may be the answer, and some may have to come from overseas if the Kiwibuild statistics are to be realised. NZIBS members can assist by supervising and signing off the installation of off-site built dwellings.
“A lot of current NZIBS members are expats, so they are already familiar with energy efficient and healthy home construction methods.”